Violets (Viola odorata)
Johnny-jump-ups (Viola tricolor)
Be careful not to pick flowers exposed to pesticides
or those growing by the roadside. Also, be cautious
Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana)
These three low-growing violas grow
if you have hay fever, asthma, or allergies.
in sun or shade in fertile, moist, well-
drained soil. They bloom best in cool
From Garden to Kitchen
weather. Violets are hardy perenni-
Harvest flowers in the morning after the dew has
als that can be divided and moved
evaporated. Choose flowers at their peak for best
around the garden. Johnny-jump-ups and pansies are
flavor. Put long-stemmed flowers in water and
annuals. They are typically purchased as transplants
keep in a cool place. Use short-stemmed blossoms
in garden centers and planted in the garden in early
within a few hours of harvest or store between
spring. Johnny-jump-ups often reseed. Violas have
layers of damp paper toweling or in a plastic bag
a sweet, wintergreen or perfumed flavor. Use petals
in the refrigerator. Just before using, gently wash
to color butter. Float flowers in punch, use in fruit
flowers, checking thoroughly for insects and soil.
salads, or candy for decorating cakes and pies.
For Best Flavor Stigma
Remove the stamens Ovary
and pistils from For more information
flowers. Also Stamen Horticultural information is available from your local
remove the Anther
Iowa State University Extension office and from these
sepals (except Web sites.
on pansies, violas, and
Johnny-jump-ups, in ISU Extension Distribution Center—
which they add flavor). Sepal www.extension.iastate.edu/store
To Dry Edible Flowers
Some flowers dry well, while others lose their fla-
vor. Check by drying a small sample before drying Reiman Gardens—
an entire crop. Gather flowers in early morning www.reimangardens.iastate.edu
before the sun shines on them. Hang upside
down by the stems in a dark, well-ventilated area.
(Flowers without stems can be dried on a fine Prepared by Richard Jauron, extension horticulturist; Juliana
screen.) Once dry, label and store in an air-tight Beiwel, former horticulture intern; Linda Naeve, former
container in a cool, dark place. extension horticulturist; and Diane Nelson, extension
communication specialist. Illustrations by Mark Müller.
Roses (Rosa species) File: Hort and LA 2-1
Flower size, fragrance, and flavor vary Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and
June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jack
among the many rose species and varieties. M. Payne, director, Cooperative Extension Service, Iowa State University of
Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa.
Generally the flowers of the older types,
such as rugosa roses, are the most flavor- . . . and justice for all
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all
ful. Roses need full sun and a rich, well- its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gen-
der, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital
drained soil. They usually require regular or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Many
watering, fertilizing, and pruning. Roses materials can be made available in alternative formats for ADA clients. To
file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Office of Civil Rights, Room
have a perfumed taste. Pick off the petals and remove 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington,
DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964. 1/08
the whitish, bitter base. Add to salads or make jelly.
RG 302 Revised November 2005
The ancient Romans cultivated roses, violets, and bitter flavor and are valued mostly for their color. Daylily blossoms have a sweet flavor, especially the
borage for culinary use. Today, edible flowers are a Use petals in salads, soups, butter, rice, stews, poul- pale yellows and oranges. Use in salads or as gar-
popular way to add color, texture, scent, and flavor to try, or in tea (use same proportions as for bee balm). nishes. Float in punch bowls for decoration or stuff
foods. Following is a list of some edible flowers, their It is sometimes used as a saffron substitute. Dry indi- with soft cheeses for an appetizer. Dried daylily
culture, and suggested uses. vidual petals on paper (petals shouldn’t touch each petals are an important ingredient in Chinese sweet
other); store in a moisture-tight container. and sour soup.
Bee balm (Monarda didyma)
The uniquely shaped, white, pink, red, Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana)
or purple flowers add color and interest Finely-cut foliage and daisy-like flow- These long-blooming annuals have
to flower beds, foods, and beverages. ers are features of this 2- to 3-foot-tall glossy foliage and are available in a
Blooms appear in July and August on annual. Its sweet, apple fragrance and variety of flower colors, including
plants that are 2 to 4 feet in height. Bee taste make chamomile popular as a tea. bicolors. Flowers may be single or
balm thrives in a variety of light and Chamomile grows in full sun to partial double. Impatiens grow in shade to part sun in a
soil conditions, but prefers a sunny location with rich, shade and prefers a sandy, well-drained moist, organic soil. Indoors, place plants in a sunny
moist soil. Space plants 2 feet apart because bee balm soil. It blooms from late spring through window or under artificial lighting. The flowers
spreads rapidly. Remove spent flowers to extend the late summer. Sow seed in spring. Once established, it have a sweet flavor and can be used as a garnish,
bloom period. Bee balm flowers have a citrus, minty will reseed itself. To make chamomile tea, harvest the in salads, or floated in drinks.
flavor. Use in salads, as garnishes, or more tradition- flowers when the petals begin to droop. Add 1 cup
ally, to make bee balm tea. Use 2 tablespoons chopped boiling water for each 3 to 4 teaspoons fresh flowers Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
fresh flowers (or 1 tablespoon dried flowers) for 4 cups (1 to 2 teaspoons dried flowers). Cover and steep for This widely planted shrub grows to
water, steep for 5 to 10 minutes, strain, and serve. 3 minutes, strain, and serve. (Individuals who are 15 feet in height and puts on a colorful,
sensitive to ragweed should use caution when drink- fragrant display in early spring. Lilacs
Borage (Borago officinalis) ing this tea.) perform best in well-drained soils in
This 2- to 3-foot-tall annual has blue, full sun. Remove spent flower heads to
star-shaped flowers in midsummer. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) encourage heavy bloom the following
Sow seeds in spring in a sunny loca- Lavender-pink flowers appear on this spring. Some lilacs have a perfumed, floral taste that
tion. The soil should be light, rich, perennial in June. Regular picking en- lends itself to many uses. Try it with vanilla yogurt
and well-aerated. After germination, courages repeat blooms. Harvest flowers or candied as a cake or pie decoration.
thin the seedlings so the plants are 2 feet apart. Borage when they are just beginning to open.
readily reseeds itself once established. Borage can be Chives grow in full sun to part shade. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
grown indoors in a south window with plenty of mois- They prefer a moist, well-drained soil This 12-inch-tall annual has richly
ture and ample root space. Borage flowers have a crisp, and may attain a height of 18 inches. Chive flowers colored red, orange, and yellow flow-
cucumber flavor. Use in salads or as garnishes. Float have a mild onion flavor. Break apart the florets and ers from midsummer until the first
in drinks or freeze in ice cubes. Use candied flowers to add to salads, cooked vegetables, casseroles, cheese frost. The leaves have a distinctive
decorate cakes, pastries, and desserts. Borage does not dishes, eggs, potatoes, or cream cheese. Chive flow- round shape. Sow seed 1/2 inch deep
dry well. If eaten in large quantities, borage can have a ers do not dry well. in early spring. Plants produce the most flowers in
diuretic effect. full sun. Avoid fertilization. Plants in highly fertile
Daylilies (Hemerocallis species) soils produce lush foliage but few flowers. If grow-
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) These easy-to-grow perennials vary in ing nasturtiums indoors in a south window, fertilize
Also known as pot marigold, this annu- height from 10 to 36 inches. Depend- with half-strength houseplant fertilizer once a
al produces pale yellow to deep orange ing on the cultivar, daylilies bloom month, water sparingly, and use a coarse, porous
flowers atop erect, 18-inch stems. Plants from early summer to frost in shades of potting mix. Nasturtium flowers have a pep-
bloom from late spring to midsummer, yellow, orange, red, and pink. Plant in pery, zesty taste that can substitute for mustard in
then decline in hot weather. Sow seed in full sun to part shade. Daylilies tolerate sandwiches. Add to salads or cure in vinegar. They
early spring in full sun and well-drained many soil types but prefer well-drained soils that are make an attractive garnish on a plate or add color
soil; repeat in early July for a fall harvest. Thin plants high in organic matter. Divide clumps every three to when petals are added to butter.
to 12 inches apart. Calendula flowers have a slightly five years.